Ever asked yourself 'How do I get my products/services onto my own eCommerce store but only sell to other businesses?'
It's a fair and important question. B2B eCommerce differs vastly from DTC commerce. In fact, in most cases, they need to be looked at as two entirely different online setups.
The difference between B2B and DTC
The major difference is, of course, their clientele. They target business customers, who usually display a very different buying behavior.
With DTC, you sell to private and individual customers, so normal retail customers.
Whereas with B2B you sell to other store owners, you may cater to multiple companies or brands. These brands benefit from having their own company accounts or a customer profile on your B2B eCommerce platform. The business-to-business digital economy is a business model that is created by one company to sell to another company (not to a consumer).
The latter of the two is more complicated in the set-up and therefore needs to be approached differently from the get-go.
Did you know
In 2020, the world's largest eCommerce market is projected to surpass $15 trillion. This market is buzzing with business and yet almost a third of wholesalers do not have an eCommerce platform.
Statista estimates that the global B2B retail eCommerce market accounted for USD 1.9 billion in 2020 which was five times larger than the market for B2C goods. eCommerce sales will continue to grow through 2022 so if you find yourself in the B2B sector, then consider establishing a B2B eCommerce platform.
If you are unsure what exactly a B2B eCommerce platform is and where to begin, continue reading.
What is a B2B eCommerce Platform?
It's an online store
In its simplest rendition, it's an online store for wholesale eCommerce. But of course there are almost infinite more use-cases and scenarios out there, that go far beyond the usual online store. Yet, we want to focus on this scenario for this post, as it is definitely the starting point for most businesses.
Why is a B2B eCommerce platform important to have?
It's crucial to have a wholesale eCommerce online store to achieve business growth, and you will see real benefits when online transactions on your eCommerce platform increase.
eCommerce platforms, as you already know, are software programs for online businesses to manage their websites from A to Z. Along with different features targeting all the parts of a business, eCommerce platforms become an indispensable component to any digital sales strategy.
B2B eCommerce platforms are beneficial for a myriad of reasons:
- Create the ability of catering to different customer groups
- Correctly store customer data for your wholesale customers
- Create unique sales channels for the unique needs of your wholesale clients
- Streamline order intake and allow for self-service for customers
- Have the infrastructure that supports multiple / different price lists
- Remove internal sales processes through an automated system (e.g. typing up an order from a customer's email → customer can now order easily online instead)
- At minimum, you will gain an increase in control (if not gain complete control over your eCommerce platform)
Who are they geared toward?
Your wholesale customers are other businesses who benefit from the products / services that you sell. These items need to be carefully displayed on an eCommerce site of yours. The needs of the B2B sector tend to be slightly more challenging than those of the DTC sector.
In B2B, you need to consider the fact that each of your B2B customers has their own customers they need to continue to sell to. These B2B clients of yours have deadlines and budgets that are set by the company they themselves work for, and so the offering needs to be elite. You must fulfill their business needs.
Essential features, your B2B eCommerce platform should have
A great B2B eCommerce platform caters to the needs of either business (so the business that owns the online store and the business that buys off said online store). A B2B site created using B2B eCommerce systems is able to optimize business performance and maximize productivity. It is vital that you find the service provider that offers the best eCommerce solution for your business.
It is true that even when you sell to a business, you are ultimately still selling to a human being at the end of the day. The eCommerce standard remains the same, but the big difference is that the buying procedure is very different from the DTC consumer. B2B buyers have business processes to implement, budgets to meet, and the customer’s requirements to meet.
Let's take a look at some important features
- Company profiles
- Price lists | Customized pricing
- Net payment terms
- Custom store theme
- Customer accounts
- Self-service portal
- Custom marketing tools
B2B eCommerce software solutions
It is important that you find the right eCommerce platform for your needs. Each eCommerce platform varies either slightly or dramatically in their offering, and you need to find the right eCommerce software that supports your B2B-needs best. Keep a lookout for the best eCommerce platform out there for you.
Take a look at various platforms that you can use to support your B2B eCommerce website below:
Shopify Plus B2B focus
The first of the eCommerce platforms
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that has many enviable eCommerce features. It has business features that are rich in capability and has a lot of flexibility when it comes to third-party integrations.
Shopify is a cloud based eCommerce platform that integrates multiple payment options and payment price lists from the get-go.
Seeing as we are talking about Shopify Plus here, we'd like to mention that this price plan starts at $2000 per month. They implement customer-specific pricing, so the monthly price depends on your eCommerce platform needs. You're about to understand why. Below, you will see a host of essential features that this B2B eCommerce platform offers:
- Each B2B business can have their own login to your store
- Multiple channels can be engaged with from the same back-end
- Customized pricing per customer
- Great third-party integrations
- Brilliant order management system
- Single dashboard host
- Ability to offer unlimited amounts of multiple products
- Tools for SEO expansion
- Advanced features that include crucial data analytic feedback
- Fully edit HTML and CSS
- All you need for shipping methods (e.g., being able to refund shipping costs etc.)
- Multitude of payment gateways
- Detailed inventory management
- Multilingual options for each of your storefronts
- Easy order fulfillment capabilities
- Free support 24/7
If Shopify Plus B2B eCommerce platform has inspired you, get in touch with one of their sales reps to see which price point you're looking at. Here is a full list of the Shopify price lists on our blog 'Shopify Plans and Pricing'.
We are proud Shopify partners and believe strongly in our technology partners at Shopify and their incredible service.
Why is BigCommerce's B2B eCommerce Platform top-notch?
The second of the eCommerce platforms
BigCommerce is a leading eCommerce platform known worldwide for its highly flexible APIs, efficient ERP integration and competitive pricing, making this online store affordable and also one of the best B2B eCommerce platforms on the market currently.
BigCommerce aims at offering its customers the most advanced B2B services.This means that it almost has no rivals within the eCommerce software industry. BigCommerce is not as easy to use as Shopify, but if you are in the B2B arena, you are probably going to need some developers to help you out anyway, so this should not be an issue.
BigCommerce offers a variety of pricing plans or catalogs for specific customer groups. BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform that allows for a B2C and B2B set up in the most efficient manner. We are going to take a look at important features on their B2B side:
- Readily available templates
- The possibility of coding and therefore expanding functionality
- Multiple fully-customizable themes
- Support B2B specific payment services
- Ability to segment customer groups
- SEO optimisation
- Customized pricing
When you're at the level of BigCommerce for BigCommerce Enterprise, you need to contact their sales reps to find out more about the pricing plan for your business. They have personalized pricing that is dependent on your needs.
The third of the eCommerce platforms
Adobe Commerce (which used to be called 'Magento Commerce') is another option that you're going to need to look at, if you're looking to accommodate wholesale eCommerce.
Adobe Commerce / Magento Commerce has all the capabilities needed to support multiple channels, multiple brands and multiple products. This eCommerce platform has technology for a PIM system and an ERP system.
It will equip you to build a brilliant eCommerce site and is one of the best B2B eCommerce sites out there.
- Flexible customization
- Powerful eCommerce site
- Third-party integrations are easily incorporated
- Extensive inventory management
- In demand themes and templates
- Fulfillment management
Further Fantastic B2B eCommerce Platforms
The three above-mentioned platforms are admittedly some of the biggest B2B eCommerce solutions out there. There are, of course, many many more. Take a look at some of the below-mentioned ones that could be of use for you and are further interesting software providers.
Headless Commerce Platforms
There is another way to approach B2B eCommerce. This is through taking the Headless approach. Going headless will give you even more freedom to build a bespoke B2B eCommerce experience for your customers. The great part is that all platforms that we write about in this article also offer Headless capabilities.
Moreover, there are dedicated Headless Commerce platforms that can also help you build a B2B eCommerce shop:
If you would like to know more about what Headless is, then take a look at our blog ‘Headless Commerce – What is it?’.
User-friendly online store
As a business owner, you want to ensure that the fellow business customers buying do so easily. It is in the interest of your business to have online stores that are easy to use.
Prioritize your wholesale customers
If your eCommerce website is on an eCommerce platform that is highly functional, fast to load and easy to order on – then you will have happy customers. It is important to nurture your clients through customer relationship management. Providing a stellar eCommerce platform forms part of creating positive customer relationship management.
You want your offering to be customer-focused, i.e., based on what your wholesale customers truly need. First and foremost, they need to be able to find you, so use your marketing tools and get busy with search engine optimization. Secondly, make sure that purchasing your items is easy, whether directly through your website, on a separate marketplace like Amazon or through Google shopping.
Feedback is crucial to success
Feedback is customers-focused, meaning that you want to ensure that those customers stay elated with your offering.
At the end of the day, you want to know how you can create or expand your online store and start gaining more sales. This is how you do it when you are working with wholesale business.
You choose the correct eCommerce platform to work with, make them your technology partner essentially, and then get cracking. Don't use or work on the same platform you have been using for years that is either not functional anymore or does not offer great B2B options.
There are too many extraordinary eCommerce platforms out there to be stuck with one that no longer serves your business.
Get in touch with us
Should you wish to get in touch with us so that we can recommend a suitable eCommerce platform for your business, please do not hesitate to do so. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through the contact form here on our website.
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Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
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